Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 139

Verses 1-24

One of the very greatest of the Pss. No grander tribute has ever been paid to the omniscience and omnipresence of God. The Ps. is ascribed to David, but the Hebrew is decisive in favour of a date very long after David, being marked by Aramaisms.

1-6. God's omniscience.

7-12. God's omnipresence.

13-18. God's wonderful providence in human life.

19-22. God's hatred of sin.

23, 24. A prayer that the Psalmist may be cleansed from all evil.

3. Compassest] RM 'winnowest,' i.e. scrutinisest.

5. Beset] surround, influence.

6. High] the word means 'inaccessible': cp. Deuteronomy 2:36.

8. Hell] RV 'Sheol,' i.e. the under-world.

9. The wings of the morning] i.e. follow the first rays of dawn which stretch like outspread wings to the far horizon. Uttermost parts of the sea] i.e. the West—Mediterranean.

11. If I say] The text has,' and I said.' Cover] some, with slight change, render 'screen me,' and this is evidently the thought of the Psalmist. Even the night, etc.] RV 'and the light about me shall be night'—a parallel to previous clause.

13. Possessed] rather, 'formed,' or 'created.'

Reins] the kidneys, seat of thought, feeling, etc., according to Hebrew belief. Covered me] rather, 'woven me together,' like a piece of cloth, with bones, sinews, muscles, etc., cp. Job 10:11.

15. In the lowest parts of the earth] Probably the writer is speaking poetically of the mysterious origin of a human personality in the womb.

16. A most obscure verse. 'Thine eyes beheld my' (yet) 'unformed substance, and in thy book were they all written,' (even) 'the days which were preordained when as yet there was none of them.' The Psalmist himself, all his days, and all their happenings, were in the mind of God before he was born.

18. I am still with thee] either, 'my thoughts still go out to thee and thy wonders,' or, 'I am still in thy thought as an object of care and love.'

19. Surely thou wilt] RM 'O that thou wouldest.' Bloody men] RV 'bloodthirsty men.'

21. The thought is evidently, 'hateful to all right-thinking persons must those be who rebel against such a wonder-working God.'

24. Wicked way] better, 'way leading to sorrow'; the idea is the same. Way everlasting] i.e. the enduring way—well expressed in Proverbs 12:28.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 139". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.